CPSC Sues Buckyballs Maker Over Dangers of Toy Posed to Children

July 28, 2012 |
CPSC Sues Buckyballs Maker Over Dangers of Toy Posed to Children

We have reported on the warnings issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and by health advocates in the United Kingdom about the dangers that exist from children ingesting Buckyballs. This product, which has been used by individuals in both the United States and in the United Kingdom in connection with stress reduction, is a pair of globe-shaped high-powered magnets.

This presents a danger to children if the magnets are swallowed. When multiple magnets are swallowed, they are attracted to each other and will stick to each other even through the intestinal walls or the bowels. The result of this is bowel obstructions and rips in the lining of the intestines. Without immediate medical care and surgery to remove the magnets, the damage to the intestinal lining increases.

The CPSC issued a warning in November 2011 about the danger of these magnets, and yet more than a dozen reports have been received of children swallowing the magnets and needing surgical help. The CPSC has since filed a complaint against Buckyballs manufacturer Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC. The complaint states that “Buckyballs and Buckycubes contain a defect in the design, packaging, warnings, and instructions which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public.”

Following a warning received by the CPSC in May 2010, Maxfield & Oberton issued a recall of the product, and informed its customers of the danger that swallowing its products posed to young children. However, the manufacturer continued to produce and distribute the product. Now, in light of the November complaint, the company has switched tactics. Now it is giving a full-throat defense of Buckyballs by posting various comments on its website.

The CPSC’s argument remains that this product poses a danger to children because the warnings are ineffective. Once the magnets are no longer in the carrying case, no warning is visible. They further contend that these magnets are often played with and shared among groups of children, many of which have not seen the warning.